70th annual Rodeo of the Ozarks

rodeoofozarks2Bring the entire family out to celebrate our nation’s birthday and our western heritage during the 70th annual Rodeo of the Ozarks on Wednesday, July 2 through Saturday, July 5 at Parsons Stadium in Springdale.

Nearly 500 professional athletes will compete in seven PRCA and WPRA sanction events – Tie Down Roping, Steer Wrestling, Barrel Racing, Bareback Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding, Team Roping and the ever popular Bull Riding. Recently honored again by the PRCA as one of the top five Large Outdoor Rodeos in 2013, the Rodeo of the Ozarks brings the best cowboys and the best stock together for four nights of rodeo action.

The idea for a rodeo came about when World War II was at its height. A group of men and women, led by Shorty Parsons, saw that people were working hard and that relief from the difficult war headlines was needed.

In this era of patriotism, leaders decided to hold the event on the Fourth of July because the Springdale city park was already decorated for Independence Day festivities that would add to the rodeo fun, such as the town band playing, a fiddler’s contest, potato races, pie eating contests, and more.

With the war almost over, there was even more cause to celebrate and a rodeo would be a natural way to do so. The first year was a success despite a few setbacks such as the north side bleachers collapsing and sending 300 people to the hospital, none with serious injury.

When the spring of 1946 rolled around, the event was officially named the Rodeo of the Ozarks, and town directors decided to make it a professional rodeo. Shorty Parsons again agreed to be producer and promoter, borrowing $29,000 to finance a permanent grandstand for 5,500 people.

The rodeo made money that year. Performances were sold out and ticket sales were not exceeded until 16 years later in 1962. There were 8,000 people at the parade containing over 600 horses.

The third year brought a permanent rodeo organization and grounds to the event, along with a plan for continued success as a long running community event. In 1950, the father of the show, Shorty Parsons, who had worked on the event each year, was asked to be president of the Rodeo of the Ozarks. He held that position until his death in 1988. As the years went by, the seating and arena was improved and prize money was increased as the show continued to grow.rodeoofozarksclown

Seventy years later, you can enjoy the experience on the same site – exciting rodeo action, the feel of patriotism for country, connection to your fellow man, and pride in accomplishment of the city and arena. However, instead of small wooden bleachers and hand rigged bucking chutes made out of oak timber cut just days before, today’s arena has steel holding pens and specially designed chutes, as well as steel under-framed bleachers seating more than 10,000 each night and parking for hundreds of cars.

The stadium is located at 1423 E. Emma. Admission to Rodeo of the Ozarks ranges from $12 to $35 depending on seating. For more information, contact Janet Edwards at 877-927-6336 or by email at janet@rodeooftheozarks.org. Visit the website www.rodeooftheozarks.com for event details.

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Posted in Arkansas Ozarks, Children, Family, Festivals, Fireworks, History and Heritage, Kids, Travel Arkansas

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